Bridge nears completion

At least one area business breathes sigh of relief
Jul. 02, 2014 @ 08:21 AM

People who drive regularly on U.S. 321-A south of Hudson should have to take a detour only for another few weeks, the N.C. Department of Transportation said.

Miller Engineering of Marion began work March 17 to replace a bridge spanning Little Gunpowder Creek that was built in 1937 and was considered "functionally obsolete," meaning it was safe but was not built to current standards but still considered safe. Motorists have been detoured along Pine Montain Road, Cedar Valley Road and U.S. 321-A.

The bridge work is expected to be completed by Aug. 15, said Jami Guynn, DOT bridge division program manager. Seeding and planting of the surrounding landscape is expected to be finished by February.

Mid-August can't get here soon enough for Catrina Allwardt, a shift manager for the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Hudson, which is just north of the bridge. Allwardt said since construction detoured traffic, food sales have dwindled.

"They'll just find another place to eat," Allwardt said. "This has brought our sales down a good bit, and has really hurt our day shift business."

Not all businesses near the detour were hurt by it. Dean Arnett, owner of Interstate Batteries, said he hasn't seen a noticable change in his business. A billboard he placed on U.S. 321 may have helped, but customer loyalty has made the difference, he says. Plus, much of his inventory is shipped, relying less on local traffic. Still, the locals will find him, he said.

"We've been here for 18 years, and in Hudson since 1962," Arnett said. "People know us. We have't really noticed a difference in retail business."